Pulling It All Together:  A Theory of Online Discourse Community Based on the Case Study of eWeb

see handout, Table 5

Key to Theory Table

Minimal Requirements

Important Criteria
Additional Criteria added to Swales, Wenger & Rheingold from TeenLit's eWeb
Weakness of eWeb during six-month Study

Other Criteria, redundant or not found vital to eWeb

Swales (1990), Discourse Community

Wenger (1999), Community of Practice

Rheingold (1993), Virtual Community

TeenLit's eWeb, "Submissions Forum"

broadly agreed set of common public goals

Mutual engagement


Common purpose was to accept or reject submissions and give feedback

mechanisms of intercommunication among its members

Mutual engagement:  Enabling engagement, Shared repertoire, Joint enterprise:  Negotiated enterprise

2.  carry on those public discussions

Teen Writers Discussion bulletin board, eWeb bulletin board, eWeb forums, eWeb chat, Mail to Group, individual email aliases

i.e. "Submissions Forum"

threshold level of members with a suitable degree of relevant content and discoursal expertise

Mutual engagement:  Diversity and partiality

1.  enough people

5 core participants, 9 periphery participants, 10 non-participants

Issues of power, dominance, and extinction

      role of facilitator

utilizes and hence possesses one or more genres in the communicative furtherance of its aims

Shared repertoire


"Teen Editorial Board" response to submissions as a group genre


Shared repertoire:  Values


Values (i.e. dislike rhyme, appreciate originality, etc.)



3.  long enough

Six-month study


Joint enterprise:  Mutual Accountability

4.  with sufficient human feeling

Feelings in individual replies as part of tone negotiation and feedback

Group identity

Members tried to get other members more active


Mutual engagement:  Mutual relationships

5.  to form webs of personal relationships in cyberspace

See Sociograms (Figure 12) for connections and referents as signs of personal relationships 

uses its participatory mechanisms primarily to provide information and feedback

Joint enterprise:  Negotiated enterprise


Used "Submissions Forum" to give feedback and information to submissions and to each other

acquired some specific lexis

Joint Enterprise:  Indigenous enterprise, Shared repertoire:  symbols, gestures


Emoting from the larger World Wide Web contest

Unique language included specialized subject lines and loaded words


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